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At the Intercessory Prayer Service for Ukraine at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center on February 7, left to right: Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas, Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, former New York Governor George Pataki, soldiers from Ukraine, and Consul General of Ukraine in New York Oleksii Holubov. Photo: TNH Staff
NEW YORK – His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and His Eminence Metropolitan Antony of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA led an intercessory prayer service for Ukraine at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center on February 7. Among those present were Consul General of Ukraine in New York Oleksii Holubov, former New York Governor George Pataki, and soldiers from Ukraine. Presiding priest of the St. Nicholas WTC community Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas and Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Fr. Nektarios Papazafiropoulos also participated in the service which was livestreamed for the faithful who could not attend in person.
Metropolitan Antony spoke movingly about the plight of Ukraine, noting that “we offer these prayers for the people of Ukraine that they may retain their courage, that they may retain their hope… their desire to move forward… and be prepared upon… driving out the invaders, and then with a renewed commitment and with the help of the entire world to rebuild the Ukrainian nation. It will be a long process but Ukraine has many times risen from the ashes… we thank God that He has blessed our nation throughout the centuries of Ukraine’s independent existence.”
Addressing the soldiers present, Metropolitan Antony said: “We pray that the Lord will strengthen you my brothers, and you will carry our prayers, our love back to your fellow soldiers and you can be certain that in every single one of our churches, every single time the Divine Liturgy is served, we pray specifically for you the soldiers of Ukraine, for those who give their all for the glory of Ukraine and for the survival of their nation and their people, God bless you.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros in his remarks, addressed Gov. Pataki noting that “in the darkest times after 9/11, you stood with our church and continued to be our strongest supporter for the rebuilding of this Shrine of St. Nicholas, as you stand today within this Shrine, please know how deeply you are and always will be appreciated for your sense of what was just and what was right.”
His Eminence then addressed Metropolitan Antony, “you have led the Ukrainian Church in America for a decade now, but you have been with the cause of Ukraine your whole life. I thank you for your presence here today and for your prayer, and I express to you my gratitude for your service both to Ukraine and to the Mother Church of Constantinople our Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
“What can I say of these soldiers and all those who are risking their lives to keep Ukraine free,” Archbishop Elpidophoros continued. “As we approach the dark anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, we stand her at the St. Nicholas Church and National Shrine, the heartbreaking reminder of the horrific acts of terror inflicted on innocent people. This Shrine was the only house of worship destroyed in the 9/11 attacks which resulted in the tragic loss of countless lives, therefore it is appropriate that we are here today and we are truly humbled to be joined by this delegation of Ukrainian soldiers who have not only experienced the injustice of this aggression firsthand but continue to resist it, to fight. Their courage, your courage, my dear friends, has inspired support from around the world, including Governor George Pataki, the center you have created, which has raised funds to support displaced families and refugees since the very beginning.”
“Together as Orthodox Christians and as Americans, we pray for peace, but peace cannot be achieved as long as there is no justice. Our prayers are for peace with justice, with freedom for Ukraine, so that this senseless onslaught in Ukraine stops once and for all,” His Eminence said. “This is our prayer and we shall not relent calling upon God and upon every human being willing to listen to bring victory for the sovereign nation of Ukraine over this unjust and inhuman violence. Slava Ukaini (‘glory to Ukraine’).”
He then presented the soldiers with an icon of St. Nicholas, noting that the name Nikolaos in Greek means “victory of the people, ‘Niki tou laou’… to protect you and lead you to victory and the liberation of the sovereign and proud country of Ukraine.”
WASHINGTON - His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros is expected to request Washington's support for the key issues concerning the course of Hellenism during the meeting he will have on Wednesday with US President Joe Biden.
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